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Full text of "Letters to M. G. & H. G."

LETTERS TO M. G. 
AND H. G. 




JOHN RUSKIN 



"//f lijted his votti IK pritiii nj high and noble 
things through an evil and dark day; and noiu 
he sits there, silent and at peace, waiting jor 
the word that will release hint and open to him 
a world where he may gaze on the vision of 
Perfect Beauty unhindered and unashamed." 

H. S. H., 1896. 



LETTERS TO 

> ^^' , 

M. G. & H. G. 



By JOHN RUSKIN 

WITH PREFACE BY 

THE RIGHT HON. G. WYNDHAM 
ILLUSTRATED 




NEW YORK AND LONDON 
HARPER (Sr- BROTHERS 
PUBLISHERS •: M CM III 



PREFACE 

I WRITE these few lines at the request 
of M. G., the lady to whom the letters 
in Part II. of this little book were ad- 
dressed. The request was made to 
me, and accepted simply in my capacity 
of a country neighbour and friend; of 
one, that is, who reckons among the 
highest privileges of his life the cour- 
tesy and friendship extended to him, 
as a neighbour, by the family group at 
Hawarden. On no other grounds could 
any words of Ruskin need, or excuse, 
an introduction from me. 

Mr. Gladstone, in common with most 
of those who deserve to be called great, 

iii 



Preface 

gave fully of his best to all who were 
brought within his ken in any natural 
relation of life. The diary in Part I., 
the letters in Parts II. and III., chron- 
icle a visit paid in 1878 by Ruskin, 
the rhetorician, teacher, and diviner of 
the Beautiful, who yet disbelieved in its 
acceptability by man, to Gladstone, the 
statesman, theologian, and prophet of 
moral energy in the practical affairs of 
a nation's life, who ever believed, not 
alone in the merits of his cause, but 
in the certainty of its triumph. They 
tell of the talk that passed between 
these two, who seemed opposite in aim 
and were so in method; approaching 
life, whether as a problem to be solved 
or a task to be accomplished, by diver- 
gent paths and with sentiments widely 
sundered; the one, in grim earnestness 

iv 



Preface 

and absolute faith ; the other, with sun- 
lit grace playing over all but absolute 
despair. 

I am permitted to quote the brief 
allusions in Mr. Gladstone's diary to 
this, and to a second, visit in the same 
year: — 

''Jan. 12, 1878. — Mr. Ruskin came; 
we had much conversation, interesting 
of course, as it must always be with 
him. 

''Jan. 15. — Mr. Ruskin went at 10%. 
In some respects an unrivalled guest, 
and those important respects too. 

"Oct. 12, 1878. — Mr. Ruskin came; 
health better, and no diminution of 
charm. 

"Oct. 13.— Walk with the Duke (of 
Argyll), Mr. Ruskin and party. 

"Oct. 14.— Walk with Mr. Ruskin. 

V 



Preface 

Mr. Ruskin at dinner developed his 
political opinions. They aim at the 
restoration of the Judaic system, and 
exhibit a mixture of virtuous absolut- 
ism and Christian socialism. All in 
his charming and benevolent manner. 

''Oct. 15. — Good-bye to Mr. Ruskin, 
and off for London at 9.5 a.m." 

In these diaries and letters we catch 
glimpses, then, of Ruskin as "an un- 
rivalled guest" who suffers no dimi- 
nution of charm from ill-health or, as 
he supposed, from the world's rejection 
of all he wished it to believe. We 
see the instant birth of mutual esteem 
between him and his unrivalled host, 
and watch it ripening into the fruit of 
friendship, whilst, as that ripens, a 
thousand blossoms of playfulness and 
affection are put forth by his admira- 

vi 



Preface 

tion and love for the daughter of the 
house. 

In this book we are scarcely to seek 
for literature or philosophy, politics or 
anecdote ; but we may, if we will — and 
who would not ? — seize the chance of an 
introduction to "an unrivalled guest," 
and learn how many flowers of pure 
fun and radiant love may bloom in 
the hortus inclusus which a great man, 
no matter how embittered by the 
general waywardness of the world, can 
still find time to cultivate for women 
who are gentle, and for little children. 
Ruskin's love for "sibyls and children 
and vestals and so on " was as sun- 
light upon lilies. 

Having entered the family circle at 
Hawarden, Ruskin is forthwith ready 
to accept all its members, and to merge 

vii 



Preface 

one at least in the most intimate rela- 
tionship of his own life, which, perforce, 
from the loneliness of that life, was 
indeed but a creation of his fancy, 
reverence, and love. He had con- 
stituted himself, one may say, the 
"brevet" son of his master Carlyle. 
So to gratify the awestruck devotion of 
M. G.'s cousin A. L., then in the zenith 
of a cricketer's renown (but aspiring to 
much else he has since won), Ruskin, 
before leaving Hawarden, writes a 
letter to Carlyle, and presents a copy to 
the youth and family. 

"Hawarden Castle, 
15th Jan. '78. 

" Dearest Papa, — I am going home 
to-day, but I think it will be only to bid 
the servants good New Year, and that 
I shall be quickly up in Oxford again; 

viii 



Preface 

and the more that I want to see you 
again soon, and not let you say any 
more " How long?" 

"Also, I want to bring with me to 
your quiet presence chamber a youth 
who deeply loves you, and for whom 
the permission to look upon your face 
will be strength and memory in the 
future, much helpful to the resolution 
and the beauty of his life, and give 
ine also better will to return to my 
Oxford duty from the Calypso woods 
of Coniston. 

"And so, believe me, ever your 
faithful and loving son, 

"J. RuSKIxN." 

A, L. had a little later consulted 
Ruskin on his choice of a profession, 
indicating a predilection for the bar, 

ix 



Preface 

and received the following letter in 
reply : — 

" My dear a., — I am most thankful 
for your letter, and much more earnest 
to see you than you can possibly be to 
see me, though I am not certain that — 
for many a day yet — I may be able 
to tell you what you ask in a way 
acceptable to you. That will depend 
on the time you take in receiving (I 
do not doubt your receiving ultimately) 
the truth I have been trying to teach 
these ten years, that neither the Holy 
Ghost, nor the Justice of God — nor the 
life of man — may be sold. 

" Ever affectionately yours, J. R." 

The man's affection for youth is fol- 
lowed here somewhat abruptly by the 



Preface 

prophet's fulmination of his message to 
the world. But, in another note, he 
writes : — 

" You know I entirely sympathise 
with your cricketing, though I don't 
make a fuss about it." 

The fun and feeling in these letters 
are so delicately fragile that any appre- 
ciation of the prophet's " message," also 
to be found in them here and there, 
would be not so much out of place as 
in the way. 

The letters are noteworthy, inas- 
much as they reveal something more 
of a great man— great in himself, and 
greater because he changed the minds 
of many. But for Riiskin, much of 
Carlyle's teaching would never have 
reached people, who, in their turn 
again, have been allowed to reach yet 

5^4 



Preface 

others. Even if we leave Art, Nature, 
and the Philosophy of Science aside, 
the man who wrote "Unto this Last" 
remains a great force, which, thank 
God, is not yet expended. 

The letters are generally valuable, 
because they show that great men 
are playful and affectionate. In par- 
ticular, the references to Mr. Gladstone 
in Letter L, to Browning (p. 42), to 
the Land-League (p. 71), to the law 
of land-owning (p. 79) — though un- 
luckily not free from obscurity — are all 
of public interest. Again, in another 
category, the planes "twisted grandly 
by rock-winds" (p. 41), and the pro- 
found thought of morning and evening, 
spring and autumn (p. 42), the "move 
the shadow from the dial evermore" 
(p. 50), the olives, grass, and cyclamen 

xii 



Preface 

(p. 86), are treasures not to be kept un- 
der lock and key. On page 60 the ref- 
erence to Lady Day is important, and, 
to make a quick change, I Uke also to 
possess the Bishop and Pig-stye (p. 94). 
An occasional asperity, as for ex- 
ample the allusion to Browning on 
p. 42, calls for no steam-roller in so fair 
a garden, yet, in a censorious world, it 
may be wise to point out that Ruskin, 
if he writes there of Browning: "He 
knows much of music, does not he? but 
I think he must like it mostly for its 
discords," writes elsewhere that he had 
never read Paracelsus and could not, 
without explanations and citations, ap- 
preciate the tribute paid to him by 
M. G. when she calls him "Aprile." 
So he had also, perhaps, omitted to 
read Abt Vogler and the lines — 

xiii 



Preface 

"And what is our failure here but a triumph's 

evidence 
For the fulness of the days? Have we 

withered or agonised? 
Why else was the pause prolonged but 

that singing might issue thence? 
Why rushed the discords in but that 

harmony should be prized?" 

Browning, indeed, practised what 
Ruskin preached, and was, as it seems, 
unknown to Ruskin, an apostle, as later, 
too, was R. L. Stevenson, of the Gos- 
pel: "There is no need to learn nega- 
tively: simply go forward, look for- 
ward; never look backward" (p. 5), 
Ruskin puts it; and again (p. 61): 
" I'm rather going down the hill than 
up just now, it's so slippery; but I 
haven't turned — only slipped back- 
wards," with, by characteristic impH- 

xiv 



Preface 

cation, an almost Person ian censure 
on the scheme of things. Browning 
in a last song, throwing a gauntlet 
down to death, and, what is braver, 
to life, calls himself: — 

" One who never turned his back but marched 
breast forward, 
Never doubted clouds would break; 
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, 
wrong would triumph, 
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight 
better. 

Sleep to wake." 

This last Ruskin also believed. On 
page 70 there stands a grand con- 
fession of faith: " The death of Carlyle 
is no sorrow to me. It is, I believe, 
not an end but a beginning of his 
real life. Nay, perhaps also of mine. 
My remorse, every day he lived, for 

XV 



Preface 

having not enough loved him in the 
days gone by, is not greater now, but 
less, in the hope that he knows what I 
am feeling about him at this — and all 
other — moments. 

In Ruskin, too, in his life and in 
these letters, there is a special note of 
courage. His despair over all that is 
known of human polities, and all that 
may be guessed of their future develop- 
ment, throws up in a higher light the 
gracious courage with which, whilst 
treading a via dolorosa, he placed a 
posy before every shrine of Beauty 
and Gentleness and Love. 

George Wyndham. 

New Year's Day, 1903. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Preface iii 

I. RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 . . 3 

II. Ruskin's Letters to M. G. . . . 33 

III. Ruskin's Letters to H. G. . . . 109 

IV. RusKiN AND Gladstone .... 119 

V. The Dead Ruskin i35 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



John RuSKIN Frontispiece 

Mary, Daughter of the Right 

Hon. W. E. Gladstone .... Facing p. 92 

(From a portrait by Sir Edward Burne Jones) 

The Letter that Puzzled the 

Butler " 114 



I 

RUSKIN AT HAWARDEN IN 1878 

(Extracts from an Old Journal) 



RUSKIN AT HAWARDEN IN 1878 
(Extracts from an Old Journal)^ 

Jan. 12 (Sat.) 1878. — I had the joyous 
honour of dining at the Castle with 
Ruskin and Holland of Christ Church. 
I asked how the Hinksey work pro- 
gressed. When, after shaking both my 
hands, as those of one of his " diggers," 

' Nothing was further from the thoughts of 
the wTiter of this " Journal " than that the 
rough notes — the very existence of which he 
had forgotten — would attain to the dignity of 
print. But he thinks such interest as they 
possess is best preserved by leaving them ' ' in 
the rough." 

3 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

he mournfully admitted its failure, ow- 
ing to the want of an earnest spirit 
in the undergrads. They played at it. 
" It is only one of the many signs of the 
diabolical condition of Oxford." His 
talk at dinner was altogether delight- 
ful. Nevertheless there was an utter 
hopelessness; a real, pure despair be- 
neath the sunlight of his smile, and 
ringing through all he said. Why it 
does not wholly paralyse him I cannot 
make out. He pitched into Museums, 
and Natural Science in general, as tend- 
ing to fix attention ujoon all Nature's 
mistakes and failures — every vile, and 
ugly, and monstrous, and odious speci- 
men of Nature's doings. He insisted 
that we were never to look at, to think 
of, anything unlovely, impure, horri- 
ble; we were to remedy evils by bring- 

4 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

ing up the good against them — to 
scathe and annihilate them. This was 
true of social reforms also. In reply to 
Holland, he urged that for practical 
purposes we knew right and wrong 
sufficiently; or, rather, we had enough 
knowledge of what beauty, truth, and 
goodness were, to work and live in. 
There was no need to learn negatively ; 
simply go forward, look forward ; never 
look backward. " He that putteth his 
hand . . . and lookcih back,'' &c. Hol- 
land spoke of a rabbit, one of whose 
lower teeth had grown round the skull, 
and killed it by entering the back of the 
head! "An entirely fit specimen — be- 
ing a monstrous and hideous thing — 
for the Oxford Museum," said Ruskin, 
hearing that it was there to be seen — 
its skull, at least. "In Museums we 

5 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

ought to have specimens — the loveH- 
est, most perfect that are to be found 
— of Nature's handiwork. Birds in all 
their feathers, animals in their skins. 
I don't ever desire to see a Dodo in its 
skeleton state; I never saw one in its 
plumage, and why should I wish to 
see one without?" Again, in reply to 
Mr. Gladstone, Ruskin said: "For at 
least twenty years past I have made it 
a rule to know nothing about doubtful 
and controverted facts — nothing but 
what is absolutely true — absolutely 
certain. I do not care for opinions, 
views, speculations, whose truth is 
doubtful. I wish to know only true 
things; and there are enough of them 
to take a full lifetime to learn. Why 
is there not an absolutely truthful 
newspaper in the world? I hate find- 

6 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

ing that what I beheved yesterday I 
must disbeHeve to-day. Why is not 
a newspaper started which we may 
entirely trust, which should wait until 
news was certain before admitting it; 
what would delay signify if truth were 
assured? I wonder no such paper 
should have been got up— if only as 
a mere luxury. 

" How horrible is the condition of our 
daily press! Columns full of horrors, 
murders, suicides, brutalities — con- 
spicuous villainy and abomination. I 
would have a paper that would tell 
us of the loveliest and best people in 
every town or place — of nothing but 
pure and beautiful things. Nowadays 
it is the most infamous people who are 
published to the world, who are forced 
upon our thoughts. I would have the 

7 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

gentlest, purest, noblest of mankind, 
set before the public mind — made fa- 
mous in the journals. This fame and 
the world's admiration could not" 
[this in reply to H. S. H.'s objection 
and Miss G.'vS] "spoil the really good, 
nice people. Their light ought to 
shine and be set up on a candlestick. 
It would indeed go on burning even 
under a bushel, but goodness ought to 
be set up, a city set on a hill. No! 
There need be no fear of spoiling the 
truly nice people by bringing them into 
prominence. At present, they are pre- 
cisely the last people in a place to be 
heard of." 

Mr. Gladstone spoke of round towers 
in Ireland. Ruskin said that was a 
controverted subject and therefore he 
knew nothing of it. Then some words 

8 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

from Mr. Gladstone about architecture, 
and some serpentine arrangement of 
some stones in some building's ground- 
plan, or some such thing, led to ser- 
pents as a topic. Ruskin said that 
Doctor Buckland once sent a young 
lady to a ball with a live snake for 
her bracelet, and he stayed there ! 
" Yes ! and well he might in such an 
honourable place. Any snake might 
be proud of so delightful a position." 

Ruskin said he believed taste was 
improving in many ways, and 3^oung 
ladies were getting more beautiful 
every year — and tables were being 
more beautifully decorated. [These 
were compliments aimed at his left- 
hand lady — Miss G.] 

Racing at Oxford — utterly ruinous. 
"Boats" — now the destruction of all 

9 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

the river's delight and beauties. Rid- 
ing ought to be encouraged at Oxford. 
The horse, hke other things, ruined 
[he spoke as an artist, of its beauty 
ideally] by racing. Mr. Gladstone fully 
agreed. A great discussion, or talk, 
followed about horses — in Homer and 
in general. Increase in size of horses, 
one marked feature in the breeding 
results in England. Mr. Gladstone 
talked of the broad line drawn in 
Homer between man, as the speaking 
animal — as articulate — and the lower 
animals; so the Fates stay the pro- 
phetic utterance of 's horse in a 

moment, as soon as ever the needful 
words are ended. Then a very jolly 
discussion concerning the Eumenides, 
the Parcae, the Fates, or so - called 
"Furies," and their true idea in the 

TO 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

Greek mind; not merely penal retrib- 
uters, but representatives of justice. 
Mr. Wickham inclined against this, 
and vilified the "Furies." 

Ruskin said that he gave his support 
to the defenders of Thirlmere from out- 
rage and abomination only out of con- 
sideration for his friends' wishes. Its 
margin was already strewed with empty 
bottles and sandwich papers, and herd- 
ed over by excursionists, till it was 
entirely spoiled for rational enjoy- 
ment: "Its bottom is literally paved 
over with broken plates and dishes, so 
it may as well go altogether, and be 
drained away." 

Then, after some talk with Mr. Glad- 
stone, he expounded some notions of 
domestic virtues. Mothers ought not 
to expend their love upon their own 

II 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

children; but, while making that love 
the central care, should love all other 
children too; especially the poor and 
suffering. They should not spend so 
much care and money in dressing out 
their little ones gorgeously and at 
such cost, but should clothe the naked 
and feed the hungry children around 
them. "To be a father to the father- 
less is the peculiar glory of a Christian " 
— not to be exclusive, but all-embrac- 
ing in every kind of love. Adop- 
tion of children is a noble Christian 
work; choose out good and promising 
children. If you find really wicked 
tendencies in a child — give him up, 
don't hope to reform the bad ones ; the 
chances are that in ninety-nine cases 
out of a hundred you would fail. So 
don't waste time on the ill-disposed, 

12 



RUSKIN AT IIaWARDEN IN 1878 

but take up good children, and sur- 
round them with all holy and en- 
nobling infltiences. Ruskin described 
a grievous failure of his own — a great 
disappointment he had met with in a 
girl whom he had adopted, or, at least, 
schooled and guided her in her bring- 
ing up. For three years she was on trial 
in the best of homes, among helpful and 
pure surroundings, yet it entirely failed. 

Then a few words to Alfred Lyttelton 
in reference to maternal love and its 
instinctive nature. 

At this point Ruskin, to our dismay, 
abruptly rose from his chair (at a 
quarter to ii p.m.) and moving bed- 
wards, with the remark, " I always go 
early to bed," vanished. 

Then — absentc magistro — a quick 
tangle of remarks followed on his 

13 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

manifold pleasant ways; his graceful 
and delightful manner — bright, gentle, 
delicately courteous; the lyric melody 
of his voice — more intensely spiritual, 
more subduedly passionate, more thrill- 
ing than any voice I ever heard. He 
is a swift observer and acute. Not 
talkative, but ever willing to be inter- 
ested in things, and to throw gleams 
of his soul's sunlight over them; orig- 
inal in his dazzling idealism. For- 
ever "thinking on whatsoever things 
are pure, and lovely, and of good 
report," &c. ; annihilating, in the in- 
tense white heat of his passionate con- 
tempt and hatred, all vile, dark, hate- 
ful things. They are not — cannot be. 
They are lies, negations, blanks, non- 
entities. "God is — and there is none 
else beside Him." 

14 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

So I wend my way home by a circuit 
through the cottage domain, dreaming 
of nothing but Ruskin and the glory 
of his soul, and the lovely visions he 
creates for us, and the ideals he would 
have us worship. 

Jan. 14 [Alonday]. — The event was 
my visit to the Castle to tea about 
5 P.M., to listen to the great master 
of all gracefulness. But, at first, all 
seemed to fail. Mr. Gladstone talked 
chiefly on pathetic subjects: drunken 
clergy in old days, &c. Still, there was 
much interesting discussion of the 
Oxford course; the tendencies of the 
schools; their strain and mental ef- 
fects. Gladstone gave, as a strong 
argument, pro the value of the sudden 
strain and effort, the vast concentra- 
tion of mind, the hasty calling into 

15 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

play of all the intellectual powers, as 
a training for political life. Ruskin 
(with his inimitable genuine modesty) 
"had never thought of that": "It 
was quite a new idea," and worthy 
of much consideration. But he still 
seemed to think the general effect of 
the strain bad. vSpeaking around the 
same topic, he said: "The man who 
has failed in any subject has no right 
whatsoever to say one word respect- 
ing the subject in which he has failed. 
But if I, speaking as one who has en- 
tirely failed," &c. ; and he then told 
us how he had failed, " partly through 
ill-health " ; how, out of kind considera- 
tion, they gave him a double- fourth; 
how great a disappointment his failure 
had b)een: "not only on my own ac- 
count I wished to succeed, but also for 

16 



RUSKIN AT IIaWARDEN IN 1878 

my father's sake." I was greatly 
struck by his simpUcity and modesty 
about this. 

At last, in response to the noble 

attacks of Miss G , Ruskin came 

into the anteroom to show us his 
copies of the three "Saint Urstila" 
pictures of Carpaccio. Oh! that I 
could tell, myself, a thousandth part 
of the delightful things he said or 
chanted — or looked — in telling us 
about the Saint. It was, I really be- 
lieve, the loveliest speech I ever heard : 
graceful and artlessly exquisite, beyond 
words. Saint Ursula was a beautiful 
and pure virgin of Brittany, and her 
story is a simple one of the heroic 
martyr-spirit of Christian saintliness. 
The first picture showed her sleeping 
upon her bed, calm and still ; an angel 

17 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

entering her chamber to bring her a 
message from on high; sweet and 
glorious flowers in her window; low- 
heeled shoes beside her bed; the col- 
ouring was rich and glowing, and the 
picture was highly finished, unlike 
the others. The second picture is of 
Ursula and her two maidens, awaiting 
martyrdom. Ursula is strong and ra- 
diant; of the kneeling maidens, she 
on the left of her mistress kneels with 
up- turned face, wrapt in an enthusiasm 
of prayer; she on the right with down- 
cast eyes, faithful and resigned, but 
hardly confident. The third picture is 
of bishops bearing Ursula's body to its 
rest^grand old bishops (though only 
two are filled in). It is but a fragmen- 
tary representation of the picture — this 
copy of Ruskin's — but enough totel) 

18 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

the story of Ursula. Well, he told us 
of her loveliness and radiant purity and 
holiness; and how she died ere she 
should wed the rude English king who 
wooed her — told it all entrancingly. 

And he told us, too, of the modesty 
and simplicity of Carpaecio, who would 
be known only as Titian's disciple, and 
"put his name to his pictures in the 
mouth of a lizard or some other beastly 
little animal." 

Alfred Lyttelton told me, by-the-bye, 
that Ruskin had y)reached him and 
Miss G. a long sermonic talk — nearly 
an hour — last night, chiefly on mar- 
riage ; how the woman should not vent- 
ure to hope for or think for pcrfectness 
in him she would love, but Jic should 
believe the maiden to be purity and 
perfection, absolute and unqualified; 

19 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

perfectly faultless, entirely lovely. 
"Women are, in general, far nobler, 
purer, more divinely perfect than men, 
because they come less in contact 
with evil!" 

Ruskin gave Alfred Lyttelton a 
commendatoiy letter to Carlyle, whom 
he addresses as "Papa"; he ever 
speaks of him as "my Master." Lord 
Acton thinks he idealises Carlyle be- 
fore he worships him; and Holland 
congratulates the world that he does 
not reproduce him in some respects — 
nor again in his style has any close 
resemblance to Hooker, whom he 
[Ruskin] says he studied minutely and 
laboriously, constructing whole sen- 
tences on his as types; being told his 
was the purest English. 

Ruskin said that one of the loveliest 

20 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

graces of holy childhood — that pretty 
leaning of a youngling against your 
knee, and bending over gracefully as 
a lily, with inimitably winsome love — 
is a thing rarely caught by artists. It 
is so fine and exquisite a movement 
as to be generally passed over. He 
only knew one artist who had truly 
found it — Vandyke, it was. Little 

May T is with me in spirit as I 

think of this; in her it is the sweet- 
est, most heart - melting gesture im- 
aginable. 

On Saturday, 12th October, Ruskin 
came with the evening, and when I 
first saw him was stuck fast with Mr. 
Gladstone in a political talk in a door- 
way — an anchorage which was long 
enough fairly to exasperate one. After 

21 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

some minutes, however, I met him, 
and his eyes of true sunshine, seeming 
incredibly to recognise one. Only dull 
words, rather, at first. " How was he 
in health?" "Surprised at his own 
recovery so far," he said, "but still 
not up to any real work. He had 
resigned, or rather sent in his resigna- 
tion of, the Professorship at Oxford; 
and henceforward would write his ser- 
mons — 'what he wanted to say,' and 
not lecture." " Could he not write lect- 
ures, and let T. read them?" "That 
he would like best of all; but he must 
wait to see what the Oxford authorities 
would say in reply to his proffered 
resignation." 

Then brings the Fishery Game, 

and the Duke of Argyll and W. E. G. 
and Ruskin and Mrs. W. H. G. and 

22 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

others all played and laughed a good 
deal. Ruskin approved the idea of the 
game, but wanted lovely little fishes 
with silver scales — instead of little 
ugly lumps of wood — to catch. 

Then, somehow, the talk drifted on 
to matters of social economy, and 
intensely interesting was the study of 
three notable and strongly-contrasted 
characters. The Duke was astonish- 
ingly conventional, seeming to think 
the social condition of England very 
satisfactory, and little needing reform; 
laughing almost contemptuously at Rus- 
kin's doctrines concerning the Thirl- 
mere scheme and the defilements of 
factories; considering that the labour- 
ing classes had but little to complain 
of, and that agricultural tenants had no 
strong case against the landlords. In 

23 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

fact, he appeared, I thought, to rep- 
resent vulgar British conservatism — 
for once, at all events. At polar ex- 
treme from which position stood Rus- 
kin — Socialist, Aristocrat, dreaming 
Idealist, hater of modern " Liberty," of 
pride of wealth, of bastard " Patriot- 
ism"; lover of the poor and the la- 
borious, toiling multitude ; condemning 
Rent as a cruel usury, detesting war 
and its "standing armies." Midway 
'twixt these two stood Mr. Gladstone, 
with his wondrously - blended poetry 
and matter-of-fact-ness. Rejecting the 
Duke's criticisms, and, in spirit, going 
far with Ruskin; accepting, indeed, I 
think, almost all his principles, but 
widely differing as to their practical 
application. He only spoke at inter- 
vals, and always deeply and helpfully. 

24 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

Ruskin preached his great truths, and 
the Duke cavilled impatiently. 

I liked the talk about war. Ruskin 
spoke strongly about our national 
waste in military expenditure, and the 
insanity of our wars. He deplored the 
existence of our large standing army 
and navy, and said our country can 
never truly prosper so long as her best 
and noblest sons adopt the soldierly 
profession for a means of livelihood. 
Here came an abrupt contradiction 
from the Duke. "They do not, how- 
ever; nobody enters the army for a 
living.'' Then Mr. Gladstone inter- 
rupts to back up Ruskin, who forth- 
with explains, "Indeed all do; they 
enter the army for the sake of the posi- 
tioyi, the uniform, the prestige, &c. ; 
and that is utterly wrong. I would 

25 



RUSKIN AT HawARDEN IN 1878 

have every man in England a soldier — 
able, if need be, to defend his home and 
his country; but not a standing pro- 
fession of fighters, which must en- 
courage the evil war-spirit." "Then 
you would abolish war entirely?" asked 
the Duke. "Most assuredly, if I 
could," said Ruskin, "and exchange 
every sword for a ploughshare." In 
reference to the supposed English love 
of war the Duke said, "Well, in my 
opinion, John Bull is a fighting animal." 
He "supposed Ruskin did not share 
this national feeling which delighted in 
wars." "I dislike fighting immensely" 
(J. R. answered), "and, in the first 
place, because I am a coward." He 
also felt that war — unless a moral 
necessity — was the most stupendous 
crime, and that Christianity certainly 

26 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

made against war. The Duke instant- 
ly attacked him with vehemence, in- 
trenched behind the authority of Moz- 
ley's sermon, and appealed to Mr. 
G., who merely eulogised the sermon 
vv^ithout expressing agreement with it. 
However, it satisfied the Duke, who 
thought R. crushed, and wound up by 
saying, "You seem to want a very 
different world to that we experience, 
Mr. Ruskin," &c., &c. "Yea, verily, a 
new heavens and a new earth, and the 
former things passed away," which 
practically was a pretty summing up 
and laughing conclusion of a helpful 
talk. 

Something like a little amicable duel 
took place at one time between Ruskin 
and Mr. G., when Ruskin directly at- 
tacked his host as a "leveller." "You 

27 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

see you think one man is as good as 
another, and all men equally competent 
to judge aright on political questions; 
whereas I am a believer in an aristoc- 
racy." And straight came the answer 
from Mr. Gladstone, "Oh dear, no! I 
am nothing of the sort. I am a firm 
believer in the aristocratic principle — 
the rule of the best. I am an out-and- 
out inequalitarian," a confession which 
Ruskin greeted with intense delight, 
clapping his hands triumphantly. 

W. E. G. went away then, and the 
Duke and others asked questions, I 
wanted his opinion of Mozley's great 
argument, viz., "that by its recogni- 
tion of nations Christianity implicitly 
sanctions war." Ruskin almost scorn- 
ed it as a fallacious and " childish argu- 
ment. ' ' Then we reverted to the subject 

28 



RUSKIN AT HaWARDEN IN 1878 

of lords of the soil and their depend- 
ents, and employers and employed, and 
Ruskin told us of shameful instances in 
France and Italy — of one, e.g., who 
spoke of his dependents as "cctte 
canaille." Then we talked of the 
happiness of simple, pastoral life, still 
found among the young people of 
France; Ruskin said he was rather 
restrained from saying what he wanted 
to by the presence of the great " landed 
proprietor. " 



II 

RUSKIN'S LETTERS TO M. G 



II 

RUSKIN'S LETTERS TO M. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
i8lh January, 1878. 

Dear Miss G , — You are then 

yet at Hawardcn? It has been only 
my doubt of your stay there that has 
prevented my letter of thanks from 
dutifully anticipating this lovely one of 
yours — after which, it feels itself very 
helpless and poor, not so much in 
actual words, as in ways of showing 
the pleasant hiding-places of the web 
of things one doesn't quite like to say; 
one's flattered little prides being all 
threaded in among quite real and more 

3 33 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

close-set humilities — equally unspeak- 
able — and quick little affections which 
one is greatly ashamed of for having 
grown so fast, and which one dares not 
tell of. But I will courageously say 
this letter of yours makes me very 

happy. 

For the thanks after the J. R. — 
they mean both the things you have 
all guessed — but are meant, or were 
on the sudden when you brought me 
the book, meant, to distinguish the 
poem' as one which had taught and 
helped me in the highest ways, from 
those which one merely reads with ad- 
miration or equal sympathy; one falls 
"upon the great world's altar stairs" 

'Above the poem "St. John the Baptist" 
(F. W. H. Myers), Mr. Ruskin wrote, "J. R., 
with deep thanks." 

34 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

helplessly beside Tennyson. I thank 
Myers for lifting me up again. 

I thank Fors and your sweet sister, 
very solemnly, for having let me see 
your father, and understand him in his 
earnestness. How is it possible for the 
men who have known him long — to al- 
low the thought of his course of con- 
duct now, or at any other time, having 
been warped by ambition, to diminish 
the lustre and the power of his name? 
I have been grievously deceived con- 
cerning him myself, and have once 
written words about him which I trust 
you at least may never see. They shall 
be effaced henceforward (I have writ- 
ten to cancel the page on which they 
are). If ever you see them, forgive 
me, and you will know w^hat it is to 



forgive. 



2>S 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

And you will like having me with 
you again, then, in the autumn? I 
never can understand that people can 
like me at all, if I like them. I'll 
read your letter over and over again, 
meantime ; and am indeed, myself, 
to your Father and to you all, — • 
Your grateful and loving, 

John Ruskin. 



[From another letter written in 
Jan. 1878.] 

It was a complete revelation to me, 
and has taught me a marvellous quan- 
tity of most precious things — above all 
things, the rashness of my own judg- 
ment (not as to the right or wrong 
of things themselves, but as to the 

36 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

temper in which men say and do 
them) . 

Arthur Severn's, Herne Hill, S. E., 
Wednesday, 24th July, 1878. 

My dear M , — Please send me 

just a little line, and tell me what time 
dinner is, to-morrow. 

Of course, that's only an excuse to 
get a little note, and be able to tell 

F that I've got one, because I 

could as easily ask at the door ; but you 
may as well have my London address 
in case you ever have any orders for 
me. The doctors say I never obey 
orders, and, of course, I never do any 
of theirs. But there are some orders 
I'm too obedient to, for the peace of 
my old age! — Ever gratefully and affec- 
tionately yours, J. RusKiN. 

37 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

National Gallery, 
Friday, 2Sth July, 1878. 

My dear M— — , — You were a per- 
fect little mother to me last night. I 
didn't feel safe a moment except when 
I was close to you. Look here, I've 
got notice from George Richmond and 
Acland saying they're both going to 
try to find me this afternoon. And I 
should like to see them, and to have 
that music to hope for all this evening 
and to-morrow morning; and, besides, 
I want you to give me a cup of tea this 
afternoon at about five, and if you 
can't, you can't, and never mind; but 
I'll just ask at the door, and it's of no 

4 

consequence, as Mr. Toots says. You 
can't tell me you can't, till I ask at 
the door; because I don't know where 
I shall be. And I'll come for my music 

38 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

at three, to-morrow, instead, and you 
needn't say I may, because I must and 
will.— And I'm ever your devoted, 

J. RUSKIN. 

Malham (by Leeds), 
4th July — no, An^^ust, 1878. 

My dear M , — Please thank your 

Father very dearly for his message, and 
take dearer thanks still for your own. 
I will come to Hawarden if I may, 
towards the close of autumn, for I want 
the longer days for walks among the 
hills to get gradual strength, and I 
shall be better able, I trust, so, for all 
the happy talk of Hawarden. But 
papa must mark branches, not trees, for 
me. / can't cut anything more than 
inch thick. 

Yes, I wish I had known that about 

39 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Mr. B. ; yet it was perhaps better as it 
chanced, for I am in a wonderfully sad 
marsh and pool of thought myself since 
my illness, and should perhaps only 
have done him mischief if the talk had 
touched that shore. — Ever your grate- 
ful and loving, J. Ruskin. 

Kendal, 
igth AtigHst, 1878. 

My dear M , — I'm going home 

to-day, and have just been putting 
these letters that have been carried in 
my breast-pocket on the moor, to keep 
the bleak breezes out, up in their own 
sejjarate envelopes, written in the cor- 
ner — F and M . I've taken 

them as near the sky as I could reach — 
always; you have been on the top of 
every moorland at Malham, and fin- 

40 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

ishcd with Inglcborough last Sunday 
after church. Judge how fondly by 
this time I think of the Hawarden trees! 
Not but that there are some dark 
clusters about the older farm-houses 
very beautiful, and I learned some- 
thing quite new to me of the majesty of 
the plane in a group of them which I 
took, in the distance, for Scotch Firs, 
and could scarcely believe my eyes as I 
drew near and saw the great leaves, the 
branches had been twisted so grandly 
by the rock-winds. 

Are you really going to be at Hawar- 
den all the autumn? and can you let 
me come, when the leaves begin to 
fall ? I don't think a pretty tree is ever 
meant to be drawn with all its leaves 
on, any more than a day when its sun 
is at noon. One draws the day in its 

4t 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

morning or evening, the tree in its 
spring or autumn. 

But I'm still afraid of myself, wheth- 
er I shall be able to draw at all. I 
am not, yet; that is to say, it tires me 
more than anything, when it's the least 
difficult. It is but too likely I shall 
just want you to play to me all day 
long. 

You never told me why you were 
disappointed that day with Browning, 
or, did you say, as it seems to me I 
remember, " a/waj/^ disappointed?" He 
knows much of music, does not he? but 
I think he must like it mostly for its dis- 
cords. I haven't had anybody to show 
off to since you told me whom to talk 
of, and now I've forgotten his name. 
It's a great shame to have forgotten 
anything you told me, but I think it's 

42 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

better to confess at once, and then, 
perhaps, you'll send me a little note, 
and tell me, will )uu? 

With truest and most respectful re- 
gards to your father, and grateful re- 
membrances to Mrs. G , and love 

to your sister. — Ever your affectionate, 

J. RUSKIN. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2'jth Atigiist, 1878. 

My dear M , — I've been trying 

these three days to make up a plan 

to please myself, and can't. There's 

always something to be left out, or 

dropped, or shortened, or passed by 

on the other side. Do you know, I 

think we children — you, and F , 

and I — had better let the old people 

arrange it all for us; and then we 

43 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

shan't quarrel, and we'll say it's all 
their fault if anything goes wrong, 
won't we? 

I'm so very glad your Father is inter- 
ested in Deucalion. I never get any 
credit from anybody for my geology, 
and it is the best of me by -far. And 
I really think I've got those stuck-up 
surveyors in a fix, rather' I'm going 
in at the botanists next, and mak- 
ing diagrams of trees to ask them 
questions about. I expect him to 
tell me how to answer them my- 
self. 

I never was so lazy as I am just now, 
in all my life. If only I enjoyed being 
lazy I should not mind, but I'm only 
ashamed of myself, and get none of 
the comfort. Perhaps, after all, you'll 
have to bring papa here. Sometimes I 

44 



Ruskin's Letters to M, G. 

think I never can stir out of this house 
any more. But I'm ever your affec- 
tionate, J. R. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
Sunday, ^oth September, 1878. 

My dear M , — How dreadfully 

I've behaved to you; and it's not all 

F 's fault, but partly her ponies' 

fault, who bewilder me by always 
standing on their hind legs, or going 
eighteen miles an hour; and partly the 
dogs' fault, who are always getting 
between my legs, or pulling my hair, 
or licking my face; and partly her 
place's fault, which is really too pretty 
and too good for her or anybody else, 
and drove me half crazy again because 
I couldn't paint it up and down and 
both sides everywhere; and partly her 

45 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G, 

people's fault, who wanted to "show" 
me things, and wouldn't understand 
that it was a vain show, and that my 
heart was disquieted within me; — and 
partly my own fault. (I meant to have 
said, "of course," but shouldn't have 
meant it.) And so I didn't answer 
your letter; and now here's your 
forgiving — partly forgiving, at least — - 
but laconic note, and, of course, I 
deserve it — them, I mean, both — the 
forgiveness and the Laconianism. 

Well, yes, I can come on the 9th, 
or on the loth, or on any day you 
want me, pretty nearly. (" You" is to 
have an emphasis, mind, but I've 
underlined too many words already.) 

But what does the Duke of A 

want to see me for? He used to be so 
grim, at the Metaphysical, I never vent- 

46 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

ured within the table's length of him. 
But look here, — you know — (emphasis 
on "you" again) that, though I shall 
mightily like studying wood-craft with 
papa — papa wouldn't have got me to 
Hawarden all by himself, and Mr. 

G , you know, wouldn't have got 

me to Dunira all by himself — and I 
should very much like to meet the 
Duke, of course, yes — but . . . Please, 
do you know if M. C.'s coming too? 

You see, I can come on the loth, 
but, after this time of utter do-nothing- 
ness at Dunira, I really want to see 
a little bit of and about books (they're 
all standing on their hind legs at 
present, and the printers rabid). And 
I meant, really and truly, to have 
written this morning to say I was at 
Mr. Gladstone's orders from the 25th, 

47 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

on; but now I'll do just what 3^ou tell 
me will be exemplary, and what I ought 
to do, and that is, come whenever you 
please, not before the loth. But, quite 
seriously, I cannot stay more than two 
or three days at utmost, for I am 
indeed not well, and the excitement of 
conversation breaks me or bends me, 
banefully always. This was so even 
before my illness, and you know if 

Mrs. W had not forced me, I 

never should have ventured to Hawar- 
den, and you must be a dear good 
little Mother to me, and take care of 
me every minute all the while I'm 
there. Love to Papa, though, and 
very true and respectful regards to 
Mrs. Gladstone, and I'm ever, — Your 
obedient and affectionate, 

J. RUSKIN. 

48 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2nd October, 1879. 

My dear M , — I am most thank- 
ful for your letter, and will come on 
Saturday the 12th, God letting me. 
It shocks me to have written as I did, 
not knowing of the Duchess' death, 
but you know I never know anything 
that happens in these days, unless I 
am specially told by some one. For my 
own part, I have so much to do with 
death, that I am far better in the 
house of mourning than of feasting, 
when the mourning is noble, and not 
selfish. 

. . . Yes, I meant Lady Mary; very 
glad am I she is coming, and more 
glad still that you still speak of her as 
"little." I don t" know'' her Sihit. But 
she came once to take tea in my rooms 
4 49 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

at Corpus, and she once gave me a 
smile as she was driving through the 
narrow street in Kensington. And 
yes, I know how ill Mrs. Acland is, 
and I would I could make her well 
again — and bring the years back again, 
and move the shadow from the dial 
evermore. And I am not inclined for 
"play," therefore, just now, but am fit 
for no work, and yet the thoughts 
come into my head, and if I don't set 
them down, they torment me — the 
angry ones chiefly; and to keep them 
quiet, I must try to set down some 
of the pretty ones, so I'm going to 

write about^ Ned's pics. F 

showed me three such lovely ones at 
Dunira ! pencil. 

* [Burne Jones.] 
50 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

But the worst of all is that I must 
not be — what the things and people I 
like always make me — in the least 
crazy again, if I can help it. Have 
you no notion at all how very bad 
for me you are? how very bad for 
me Lady Mary will be? how very 

baddest Ned and F would be? I 

don't think I can possibly survive more 
than — well, anyhow, I'll try to get 
Ned, for indeed it is quite seriously 
needful for me to see him and talk to 
him while I'm writing about his pics; 

but F must not come, for Ned 

and I should both begin to think about 
her instead of the pics, and that would 
never do. Besides, I'm busy on the 
"Bankruptcy of India," and might say 
some things about Indian merchants! 
and my own throwing away of the 

51 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

money my poor dear father made out 
of Spain, which she mightn't Hke to 
hear. I can't write more to-day. Love 
to your father, and thanks for sewing 
up Hector. — ^And I'm ever your loving, 

J. R. 



October 1878. 

My dear M , — Yes, I think all is 

best as you have decided; and I will 
come when you bid, and do as you bid, 
and for me it is certainly better that I 
should be at your command and at 
those children's, for what good they 
can find in me, than that I should be 
led into the track of my own special 
work and thought by my friend's over- 
whelming strength at present; besides 
that, much as we love each other, there 

52 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

are some points of essential differ- 
ence in feeling between us, which I 
sometimes hurt Mr. Jones by show- 
ing, and myself much more through 
him. I am very thankful to know 
that the children will like me to 
come. 

I have never heard of anything so 
instantly' terrible, except in the grief 
of war; but yet how infinitely, in the 
full sense of the word, better to suffer 
such grief, than — as so many times it 
chances in this terrible age — never to 
have loved enough to be capable of 
it. — Ever your affectionate and grate- 
ful, J. RUSKIN. 

' [Sudden death of Elizabeth, Duchess of 
Argyll, when dining in company with Mr. and 
Mrs. Gladstone at 21 Carlton House Terrace, 
the house of Lord F. Cavendish.] 

53 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Brantwood. Coniston, Lancashire, 
i^th October, 1878. 

My dear M , — I got home quite 

easily and swiftly, though feeling much 
woe-begone till I got in sight of my own 
hills. I liked the pony drive and the 
ideal breakfast in library mightily. The 
tea at the Rectory, and cake, also a 
pleasant memory, nor less your father's 
and mother's kindness, though I think 
those bright eyes of yours see that I am 
often pained in talking to your father 
by not being able, and sometimes by 
not permitting myself, to say what I 
want to say. Really and truly, I never 
can do so, but ver}^ slowly, and in 
books! So I send you another book,* 
which really says more of what I want 

' ["The Eagle's Nest." Ten Lectures on the 
Relation of Natural Science to Art.] 

54 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

to say, than any, if anybody cared to 
hear. See specially pp. 60 to 65. — 
Your grateful and affectionate, 

J. R. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
i2ih November, 1878. 

My dear M , — It is very sweet 

of you not to reproach me with for- 
getting the poor sick painter.* I have 
not, but all my scholar- work is so severe 
that I had no heart to send it him. At 
last I have ordered a somewhat rough 
Hunt to be sent to your care (for I 
forget his address), which I think it 

' [A young workingman at Hawarden, dying 
of consumption, who had been trying to draw 
according to the teaching he had found in 
books by Mr. Ruskin, that he had managed 
to buy.] 

55 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

will be of extreme service to him to 
copy. 

I am very glad to know where F 

is, and if either of you will tell me any- 
thing of each other, it will be much 
beatific to me. I am in a despondent 
state at the short days and shorter 
years, and need whatever comfort is 
in either of your hands. I was so glad 
you noticed what I told you at that 
last breakfast. It is a wonderful 
story, if ever I may tell you more 
of it. 

My most faithful and respectful re- 
gards to your father and mother. — 
Ever your loving, J. Ruskin. 

If the whole drawing be too fatigu- 
ing, the blackberries and plums are the 
essential part. 

56 



Ruskin's Letters to j\1. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
January 1879. 

My dear M ,— It is wonderfully 

good and dear of you to write a word 
to me, when I've been so long signless, 
but I've been curiously oppressed by 
many things, and could not speak. 
Thank you again and again. I am 
happy in having given that poor spirit 
some comfort. Keep the drawing at 
present, I'm in confusion, and am only 
too glad to have it in your care. I 
would have written — somehow, anyhow 
— only I wanted to read Paracelsus first, 
but always felt disinclined to begin, btit 
I'm dying to know what it is you call 
me.' I do so like to be called names. 

■- [Paracelsus on Aprile — 

"How he stands 
With eve's last sunbeam staying on his hair 

57 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Poor F , I hear, is gone to Africa, 

and she hasn't sent me a line! but I'm 
sure I don't deserve half of the sweet 
notes she did send me during the au- 
tumn. Only I did ask her once where 
you were, and she never told me. 

Kind regards to Mr. O— — , though, 
I think, if he ever asks me where you 
are / won't tell him. 

Love to papa and mamma, and 

Mrs. W , if with you. — And I am 

ever your devoted, J. Ruskin. 

Which turns to it as if they were akin; 

And those clear smiling eyes of saddest blue 

Nearly set free, so far they rise above 

The painful fruitless striving of the brow, 

And enforced knowledge of the lips, firm set 

In slow despondency's eternal sigh! 

Has he too missed life's end, and learned the 

cause?" 

— Browning.] 

58 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
15^ February, 1879. 

My dear M , — -The enclosed pen- 
sive little line lay under yours, this 
morning, on my writing-table. Very 
thankful I was for both of them, as, 

indeed, I ought to be. Poor F is 

sadly gentle ; but I trust the bright Med- 
iterranean sky will revive her father, 

and raise her into a coruscant F 

of fair South France. It's very pretty 
of you to give me those lovely lines :^ 
I like them because that child I told 
you of, who died, who wasn't usually 
by way of paying me compliments, did 
once say "Those eyes," after looking 
into them awhile. If they could but 
see ever so little a way towards her, 

'[On Aprile (Paracelsus).] 

59 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

now! To-morrow, Lady-day, it will 
be thirteen years since she bade me 
" wait " three, and I'm tired of waiting. 
But I'm taking care of myself, yes; 
perhaps not quite the greatest, but 
enough to do. I like the frost. I 
can't skate, and won't run the risk of 
shaking my shaky wits by a fall ; but I 
was sliding about four miles altogether 
up and across the lake, yesterday, and 
came in very hot, and am not stiff, for 
an old gentleman, this morning. Please 
imagine me, bowing or kneeling as low 
as you please, and ever gratefully and 
affectionately yours, J. Ruskin. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2Sth July, 1879. 

My dear M , — I find it will be 

quite impossible for me to come to 

60 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Hawarden this autumn. I am very 
utterly sorry, and should only make 
you sorry for me if I were to tell you 
the half of the weaknesses and the 
worries which compel me to stay at 
home, and forbid all talking. The chief 
of all reasons being, however, that, in 
my present state of illness, nearly every 
word anybody says, if I care for them, 
either grieves or astonishes me to a 
degree which puts me off my sleep, 
and off my work, and off my meat. 
I am obliged to work at botany and 
mineralogy, and to put cotton in my 
ears; but you know one can't pay visits 
while one's climbing that hill of the 
voices, even if some sweet ones mingle 
in the murmur of them. 

I'm rather going down the hill than 
up just now, it's so slippery; but I 

6i 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

haven't turned — only slipped back- 
wards. 

Love to your father and mother. I 
wonder if your father will forgive my 
sending him a saucy message by his 
daughter, that I don't think he need 
have set himself in the Nineteenth 
Century to prove to the Nineteenth 
Century that "all the treasures of 
wisdom and knowledge" were value- 
less. — Ever your affectionate, J. R. 

Amiens, 
2 2rd October, 1880. 

My very dear M , — I only did 

not answer your first letter because I 
did not think it was in woman's nature 
(being in the noble state of a loving 
daughter) to read any syllable of an- 
swer with patience, when once she 

62 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

knew the letter was mine. I wrote a 
word or two to F ; and now, if in- 
deed you are dear and patient enough 
to read, I will tell you why that letter 
was written, and what it means. Of 
course it was not written for publica- 
tion. But it was written under full ad- 
mission of the probability of being some 
day compelled to allow its publication ; 
nay, it might be, publish it myself. Do 
not for an instant admit in your mind 
the taint of a thought that I would pri- 
vately write of any man — far less of one 
whom I honoured and loved — words 
which I would not let him hear, or see, 
on due occasion. I love and honour 
your father ; just as I have always told 
him and you that I did. As a perfectly 
right-minded private English gentle- 
man; as a man of purest religious 

63 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

temper, and as one tenderly compas- 
sionate, and as one earnestly (desiring 
to be) just. 

But in none of these virtues, God be 
praised, is he alone in England. In 
none of these lights, does it seem to 
me, is he to be vociferously or exclu- 
sively applauded, without dishononv 
implied to other English gentlemen, 
and to other English politicians. Now 
for the other side, my adversary side 
(that which, surely, I candidly enough 
always warned you there was in me, 
though one does not show it, "up the 
lawn nor by the wood," at Hawarden). 
I have always fiercely opposed your 
Father's politics; I have always De- 
spised (forgive the Gorgonian word) his 
way of declaring them to the people. 
I have always despised, also, Lord Bea- 

64 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

consfield's methods of appealing to 
Parliament, and to the Queen's ambi- 
tion, just as I do all Liberal, — so-called 
appeals to the Mob's — not ambition 
(for Mobs have not sense enough, or 
knowledge enough, to be ambitious) 
but conceit. I could not have explain- 
ed all this to my Liberal Glaswegian 
Constituents; I would not, had I been 
able. They asked me a question they 
had no business with, and got their 
answer (written between two coats of 
colour which I was laying on an oakleaf , 
and about which I was, that morning, 
exceedingly solicitous, and had vowed 
that no letter should be answered at 
all) — and in my tired state, "le peintre 
ne s'amuse (mais point du tout!) a etre 
ambassadeur." The answer, neverthe- 
less — was perfectly deliberate, and 
s 65 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

meant, once for all, to say on the matter 
the gist of aU I had to say. 

After the election is over — and how- 
ever it goes — all this will be explained 
in another way ; and you shall see every 
word before I print it, though there will, 
and must, be much that will pain you. 
But there will be nothing that is even 
apparently discourteous; and, in the 
meantime, remember, that if your Fa- 
ther said publicly of me that he cared 
no more for me (meaning Political and 
Economical me) — than for a broken 
bottle stuck on the top of a wall — 
I should say — only — well, I knew that 
before — but the rest of me he loves, for 
all that. 

I meant this letter to be so legible, 
and so clear and quiet — and here it is, 
all in a mess, as usual. . . . Perhaps 

66 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

you'll like it better so; but mind I've 
written it straight away the moment I 
opened a line from my niece saying she 
had seen Mr. Burne Jones, and that you 
might be written to! And, my dear, 
believe this, please — if you care to be- 
lieve it — that I never in my life was in 
such peril of losing my "political inde- 
pendence" as under my little Madon- 
na's power at Hawarden. — And I am, 
and shall be ever, her loving servant, 

John Ruskin. 

[This letter (28th July, 1879) was 
written in answer to one from M. G., 
in which she informed him that his 
name had been taken in vain by the 
newspapers, and quoting the paragraph 
in question. (She thought this was the 
best way of punishing him.)] 

67 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Amiens, 
zSth October, 1880. 

My darling little Madonna, — 
You are really gratia plena (don't be 
shocked, I'm writing about the Saints 
all day, just now, and don't know 
when I'm talking quite properly to my 
pets), but it is unspeakably sweet of 
your Father and you to forgive me so 
soon, and I'm inclined to believe any- 
thing you'll tell me of him, after that; 
only, you know, I'm a great believer in 
goodness, and fancy there are many 
people who ought to be canonized who 
never are; so that — be a man ever so 
good — I'm not idolatrous of him. (If 
it's a — Madonna, it's another thing 
you know), but I never for an instant 
meant any comparison or likeness be- 
tween D. and your Father — they merely 

68 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

had to be named as they were ques- 
tioned of. On the other hand, I know 
nothing about D. whatsoever, but have 
a lurking tenderness about him because 
my own father had a liking for him, and 
was in great grief about my first politi- 
cal letter — twenty (or thirty ?) years ago 
— which was a fierce attack upon him. 

I do trust nothing more will ever 
cause you to have doubt or pain. I 
can't get what I have to say said; 
I'm tired to-day — have found out 
things very wonderful, and had — with 
your letter at last — more pleasure than 
I can bear without breaking down. 

Dear love to your father. — Ever 
your grateful, St. C.^ 

' [St. Chrysostom (St. John the Golden- 
mouthed), the name given to Mr. Ruskin by 
his friend Mrs. Cowper Temple.] 

69 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
i$th February, 1881. 

My dear M , — I am more than 

glad to have your letter to-day, for 
I have been thinking of you quite as 
often as you of me — to say the least 
— and wishing, you don't know how 
much, to see you. 

The death of Carlyle is no sorrow to 
me. It is, I believe, not an end — but 
a beginning of his real life. Nay, per- 
haps also of mine. My remorse, every 
day he lived, for having not enough 
loved him in the days gone by, is not 
greater now, but less, in the hope that 
he knows what I am feeling about 
him at this — and all other — mo- 
ments. 

I want woefully to see Alfred also. 
Can neither of you come here? I 

70 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

want you to play to me, and spir- 
itualize me ; him to play with me, 
and if he thinks it so ! materialize 
me. 

Please give my love to F . I 

have been thinking of her too. I owe 
her two pounds, and shall try to send 
her pious usury. They have been too 
long in my napkin. 

Don't let her do too much — (nor too 
little), and I want to see how she looks 
with more colour — beauty truly blest, 
&c. 

Dear love to your father; but 
tell him he hasn't scattered the An- 
gelic Land - League, — and that that 
Punch is not a representation of its 
stick — or shillelagh — power. — Ever 
your loving, 

John Ruskin. 

71 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

2oth February, 1882. 

Dear M , — Of course I'll come; 

and at four, or a little earlier, — unless — 
a slight feeling of cold upon me to-day 
should become — tyrannous. I have 
been so much favoured by Fortune and 
Fate, since I was here at their mercy, 
that it will be only like their usual 
way with me to take this Ash Wednes- 
day from me, and make it truly, 
what I suppose, in modern, poetical, 
and scientific diction, I should call 
Cinereous. You will not doubt my 
hope to come, but I must not play 
with any symptoms of breaking 
down. 

I will write you a line, in any case, 
to-morrow. With grateful love to 
your father. — Ever your loving, 

St. C. 
72 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G 

1882. 

Dearest M , — The tea and roses 

will be exactly the nicest and sweetest 
for mc to-day; but mind, you're not 
to have a levee, and cheat me of my 
music. . . . Please think, meantime, if 
you can find a tune that would go to 
Scott's " The heath this night must be 
my bed," in "The Lady of the Lake." 
It is quite curious how sometimes the 
prettiest words won't go to note- times. 
I can't get any tune to go to those, 
unless one puts Marie, with accent as 
in French, for the two short syllables 
of Scott's Mary. — Ever, my dear, your 
loving St. C. 

Shrove Tuesday, 1882. 

My dear M , — It is all over 

with my hopes for to-morrow; a dis- 

73 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G, 

tinctly threatening cough at once com- 
pels me to close my poor little wings 
and shrink into my nest. I am not 
afraid of it — on these submissive and 
resigned terms — but it will not allow 
itself to be braved; and all my pret- 
ty plans are broken, like Alnaschar's/ 
for a week, at least, except that I 

shall be able to see A on Friday. 

I cannot but accept, in its full force, 
your assurance that your father wished 
to see me; but, surely if there is any- 
thing on which he would care to ask 
me a question, you can write it for 
him, and I answer, without disturbance 
of his one day of rest? You will not, 
nor will he, doubt how eagerly I should 
have come if I could. — Ever your 
loving, St. C. 

' Arabian Nights. 
74 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Ash Wednesday, 1882. 

Dear M . — (This) — Wednesday 

week — D.V., shall be kept sacred with 
you; I've only a little cough and hot 
hands; conquerable, I doubt not, before 
then; but insisting on captivity at 
present. The day is sunny, and my 
window looks over the Surrey hills; 
and I'm thinking over a word or two 
I want to say in a new small edition of 
"Sesame and Lilies," for girls only, 
without the mystery of life — just a few 
words about obeying Fathers as well as 
ruling Husbands. I'm more and more 
convinced of the total inability of Men 
to manage themselves, much less their 
wives and daughters; but it's pretty 
of daughters to be obedient, and the 
book's imperfect without a word or two 
in favour of the papas. CYou can guess 

75 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

why it hadn't that — at first.) — Ever 
your loving, St. C. 

My dear M , — ^You know your 

Father doesn't really want to see me; 
and if he does, he oughtn't, but should 
rest whenever he can; and I can't put 

A ofi, and I don't want to, because 

she's going out of town, and all that / 
want is to finish that morning's minute 
(but I hope a minute takes a long time 
to finish), and you can do that for me 
whenever you like — almost. Let me 
see, I won't be so horrid as to say, I'll 
stop in town //// you like. But I do 
think, when I was so civil about that 
organ yesterday (or whatever it is) that 
you might play me a little music to my 
mind. — Ever your loving, 

St. C. 
76 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

ist March, 1882. 

Darling M , — Your two notes are 

(what do you call them in music ?) very 
lovely to me. I want you to put a third 
to them, then we can have a chord, can't 
we ? I'm really ever so ill, still, and 
looking such a fright ! I could tell you 
what I'm like, but please don't ask me. 

Only, please, please very much, my 
dear little mother, read this enclosed 
note from one of the most precious 
girls I've ever known, in mere honesty 
and simplicity of heart-depth, and tell 
me what I ought to answer ? Of course 
I won't answer that, but I should like to 
know, all the same ; and tell me if you've 
known any quite horrid papas of this 
sort, and what's to be said about them 
in my new preface to "Sesame," 

I've written a very short moral and 

77 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

anodynic line to her, to-day. The 
cousin's not the depth of the thing, — 
but he is, I beUeve, dying fast ; perhaps 
for her own peace she's much better out 
of the way, but she might have been 
sent to a place where she could enjoy 
herself. (She's just eighteen.) — Ever 
your loving (it's all in sympathetic ink, 
though 'tis faded), lovingest, and grate- 
fullest, St, C. 

Herne Hill, 
28th {2gth) March, 1882. 

My dear M , — I have been dark- 
ly ill again. I do not quite yet know 
how ill, or how near the end of illness 
in this world, but I am to-day able to 
write (as far as this may be called 
writing) again; and I fain would pray 
your pardon for what must seem only 

78 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

madness still, in asking you to tell your 
Father how terrified I am at the posi- 
tion he still holds in the House, for 
separate law for Ireland and England. 

For these seven, nay these ten years, 
I have tried to get either Mr. Gladstone 
or any other conscientious Minister of 
the Crown to feel that the law of land- 
possession was for all the world, and 
eternal as the mountains and the sea. 

Those who possess the land must live 
on it, not by taxing it. 

Stars and seas and rocks must pass 
away before that Word of God shall 
pass away, "The Land is Mine.'' 

And the position taken by the Par- 
liament just now is so frightful to me, 
in its absolute defiance of every human 
prognostic of Revolution, that I must 
write to you in this solemn way about 

79 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

it, the first note I gravely sit down to 
write in my own old nursery, with, I 
trust, yet uncrushed life and brain. 
— Ever your affectionate, 

John Ruskin. 

1882. 

Darling M , — I don't know what 

to do, for that music is always in my 
ears, and I can't do my mineralogy. 

Also, I'm rather badly in love with 
that girl in the cap ; you shouldn't have 
told me of her ! 

Also, I want to be a bear - killer 
and bull- tamer; and to have vulture 
maidens* going up trees like squirrels 
to look at me. 

Also, — and this is quite serious (and 

' M. G. had lent him " The Vulture Maiden" 
(W. von Hillern). 

80 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

so's the first sentence, and, indeed, so 
are the others) — I want you to get me 
the prettiest possible pair of gauntlet 
gloves that will fit a little girl of eleven 
or ten (I can't quite guess), but they're 
only to be rough gloves for country 
walks among thistles, only I want them 
pretty. She didn't win them fairly 
(more's the pity), but only in a skirmish 
with burdock heads, which I had no 
chance in, but you must have them for 
me to address, when I come on Monday. 
Dear love to papa and mamma, and 

much to H . — Ever your devoted, 

St. C. 

AVALLON, 
215/ August, 1882. 

My dear M , — I thought you 

would be at Hawarden by this time, 

6 81 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G, 

and venture the vulture maiden there ; 
frightened lest I should lose her among 
these granite glens, which I can't tread 
in search of her with the elastic step of 
my youth. And I'm in frightfully 
bad humour, because I've got nobody 
coming to tea, and nobody to go to 
tea to, and this is only to say I've 
sent the book faithful, and that I still 
say it's nonsense; and that I've heard 
no music yet in France but steam- 
whistles. — And I'm ever your loving, 

St. C. 
But I'll write you again, soon. 

Chambery, 
2ist September, 1882. 

My dear M . — But what did you 

go to Skye for? — she'll beguile you 
into thinking it's all right directly. — 

82 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Couldn't you have stopped at Hawar- 
den to comfort me a little, first? The 
puss never told me a word about it; 
and when I got your letter, on an ex- 
tremely wet day at Annecy, it was as 
if a bit of the sky had tumbled after 
the rain. Mind, you must be very 
good to me yet for a long while, and 
mustn't go and get married in the 
next chapter. If I hadn't a vague 
hope of always finding a vulture maid- 
en on a peak, somewhere accessible, I 
don't know what would become of me. 
(The nearest approach to the thing 
yet was four buzzards on the Dole — 
but there was no maiden ! ) And 
perhaps there may be some conso- 
lation in Sister Dora, when I get 
back. 

I've not got to Italy yet, you see, 

&3 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

and am reduced to the tunnel to-day, 
after all my fine plans of walking over 
the Alps. We have not had a fair 
day for three weeks, except a bitter 
cold one, when I got up the Dole, but 
saw nothing from it except a line of 
mist where Alps used to be. 

Please, if this ever finds you, send 
me some chat and some pacifying 
reflections to P. R. Lucca. I've half 
a mind to go on to Monte Cassino and 
not come back. — But Pm ever your 
grateful and loving, St. C. 

Lucca, 
^rd October, 1882. 

My dear M^— , — Expecting a letter, 
is she, with my consent and blessing? 
But doesn't she mean to take both, 
whether I give them or not? Tell 

84 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

her I'm thinking about it; and, in the 
meantime, I'll thank her not to take 
you out in boats not meant to be 
sailed in; for I don't find that people 
help me much out of heaven, and 
you're the only creature I've got left, 
now, who can at all manage me, or 
play a note of music for me as I 
like. 

And tell her, also, I'm not thinking 
much about it, neither, for I've got my 
Ilaria here, and her pug-dog, and am 
rather happy. 

Such a walk as I had, too, the day 
before yesterday, on the marble hills 
which look to Pisa and the sea. It is 
a great grace of the olive, not enough 
thought on, that it does not hurt the 
grass underneath; and on the shady 
grass banks and terraces beneath the 

85 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

grey and silver of the wild branches, 
the purple cyclamens are all out, not 
in showers merely, but masses, as 
thick as violets in spring — vividest 
pale red -purple, like light of even- 
ing. 

And it's just chestnut fall time; 
and where the olives and cyclamens 
end, the chestnuts begin, ankle-deep in 
places, like a thick, golden-brown moss, 
which the sunshine rests upon as if it 
loved it. Higher up come again the 
soft grass terraces, without the olives, 
swept round the hillsides as if all the 
people of Italy came there to sit and 
gaze at the sea, and Capraja and 
Gorgona. 

I can walk pretty well, I find, still; 
and draw pretty well, if I don't write 
books nor letters to young ladies on 

86 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

their marriage, nor to bankers on busi- 
ness, nor to authors on Hterature ; but 
it's difficult to get a quiet time with 
a good conscience. I'm not going to 
do anything to - day but enjoy my- 
self, after this letter's done, which I've 
rather enjoyed writing, too. You know 
its chief business is to thank you for 
your pretty postscript — but you know 
— none of you know! 

Meantime, — I'm your comforted and 
loving, St. C. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
May-day, 1883. 

Dearest M , — Do you think 

you've been behaving prettily in not 
sending me a word all this time? Be- 
cause if you do, I don't, and I wouldn't 
have written a word to you to-day, only 

87 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

I've just got a most precious letter from 
Mr. Fuller Maitland about music, and 

as it was F 's doing, taking me to 

hear the Meister-Singer, I want you to 

say to F that Til make it up, now, 

if she likes to. 

Dear love to papa. — Ever your long- 
suffering, St. C. 

84 Woodstock Road, Oxford, 
26th November, 1884. 

You DARLING LITTLE MOTHER, — 

You really are the most perfect an- 
gel that ever St. Cecilia brought up. 

I've been so woful for not seeing 
nor hearing you, you wouldn't be- 
lieve! Please come and comfort me 
as soon as ever you can. Your note 
makes me so happy I can't under- 
stand it ; but I'll be wherever you 

88 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

want me to be, next week, and al- 
ways, if I can. — Ever your loving, 

St. C. 



84 Woodstock Road, Oxford, 
November 1884. 

My darling M , — Tuesday, 

Wednesday, most of Thursday, all Fri- 
day and all Saturday I'm at your beck, 
call, whisper, look, or lifted finger. 

I've a meeting of St. George's Guild 
at the schools on Thursday, which 
fastens me for the afternoon. 

I shall love to hear the story,* and 
wish it would take an hour instead of 
ten minutes ; but, of course, if you like 
it, / shall. I don't mean that in play, 
but seriously; you know good writing 

^["The Mad Lady," A story in manuscript, 
written by Laura Tennant.] 

89 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

and feeling as well as I do, and we are 
not likely to differ a jot about anything 
else. — Ever your loving, St. C. 

The picture is quite lovely. He 
never did anything else like it.^ 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
i6th December, 1884. 

My dearest M , — It is ever so 

sweet and wise-thoughtful of you to 
send me this picture, and it comes just 
when I most needed something to set 
me up a little, for I have been strug- 
gling home through snow and smoke 
with the heaviest and most depressing 
cold upon me that one could have, not 
to be serious, and I feel as if nobody 
could ever love me, or believe me, or 

' [A drawing of M. G., by Burne Jones.] 
90 



"The heads of Medea and of Danae, which I 
placed in your schools long ago, are representa- 
tive of all that you need aim at in chiaroscuro; 
and lately a third type of his {B urn e- J ones) 
best work, in subdued pencil light and shade, 
has been placed within your reach in Dr. Acland's 
drawing-room — the portrait of Miss Gladstone, 
in which you will see the painter's best powers 
stimulated to their utmost, and reaching a serene 
depth of expression unattainable by photography, 
and nearly certain to be lost in finished painting." 
— John Ruskin in "The Art of England: 
II. Burne- Jones and Watts," delivered at Oxford, 
May 12, 1883. 



92 



^^■^■1 


^^H^ 


t4 


'"'A k 


_-*r ' 


rj 



p-^ 



*-*-\- 



MAkV, DAUGHTER OF THE RIGHT HON. \V. E. GLADSTONE 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

listen to me, or get any good of me 
ever any more. 

Please — this is very serious — make 
me of any good to you that you can, 
or care to, always. — Ever 3^our affec- 
tionate, J. RUSKIN. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2()th December, 1885. 

Darling M , — Bless you? Blest 

if I do; I'll give you absolution, if you 
come and ask it very meekly, but don't 
you know how I hate girls marrying 
curates? You must come directly and 
play me some lovely tunes — it's the last 
chance you'll have of doing anything 
to please me, for I don't like married 
women; I like sibyls and children and 
vestals, and so on. Not that I mean 
to quarrel with yoti, if you'll come now 

93 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

and make it up. If you can leave your 
father at all — sooner or later by a day 
or two doesn't matter, or a day or two 
out of what you have left (I had rather 
you waited till crocus or anemone time, 
for we're about ugliest just now). As 

for F , she was a horrid traitress, 

but you have been very faithful to me 
through all my wicked sayings about 
papa (I can tell you there would have 
been a word or two more if you hadn't 
been in the w^ay). As for the poverty 
and cottage and all the rest of that 
nonsense, do you think you'll get any 
credit in heaven for being poor when 
you fall in love first? If you had 
married a conscientious Bishop, and 
made Mm live in a pig-stye — a la bonne 
heure! — Ever your loving and too-for- 
giving, St. C. 

94 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
i^th January, 1886. 

My dear M , — I am sending you 

to-day some drawings by Miss Alex- 
ander, which I think you will all like to 

look at; but I suppose H is with 

you, and I want her to take back to 
Cambridge, in gift to her college, the 
two of the Superiora and her girls, and 
the text of their history. In the course 
of the spring I shall want the text cop- 
ied for publication, and will borrow the 
drawings to photograph. 

The light landscape drawing of girls 
at a fountain is a present to Girton — 
promised in the songs of Tuscany. 
This is my own ; but the Superiora and 
her story still belong to Miss Alexander ; 
but as she is my " sorella," I practically 
give them away. 

95 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

I couldn't answer your last letter with- 
out being disagreeable. I didn't mean, 
and never have thought, that girls were 
higher or holier than wives — Heaven 
forbid. I merely said I liked them bet- 
ter; which, surely, is extremely proper 
of me. — Ever your loving, J. R. 

Brantwood, Coniston, 
2']th January, 1886. 

My dear M ,— Your letter is very 

pretty — but women are stupid creat- 
ures after all! It really hurts a great 
deal more than you have the least idea 
— (but you ought to have had an idea, 
if women weren't stupid) to think that 
this is the last week of M. G. — and it's 
horrid to be hurt when one's as old 
as I am. I shan't think of you a bit. 
Of course I'll send you " Praeterita," 

96 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

but I must finish the first vol., and 
bind it for you. I shall write " M. G." 
in the first number, to - day. I am 
sending on your letter as I did the last 
— to my sorella Francesca — who wrote 
back, I ought not to quarrel with you 
— but women are stupid creatures! 

J. R. 
I've given up being St. C. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2nd April, 1886. 

My dear M , — I am a little glad 

of a word from Hawarden again — 
though I'm frightfully sulky with ev- 
erybody in the world except my sorella 
at Florence (and she's a horrid evan- 
gelical, and thinks St. Paul was a 
wicked man before he was unhorsed). 
But everybody here has gone away 
7 97 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

to London and left me in my old age. 
I've nothing to depend on except three 
ducks and the shepherd's little girl up 
the hill, who takes care of his lambs 
and piglets — and I call her Pigwiggina 
(I will look over the little girl class 
drawings — if they'd like me to), and 
I am teaching her to play upon four 
bells — -A B Cit and E — and writing 
beautiful tunes for her, composed of 
those elements. 

I thought you'd have forgotten all 
Praeteritas, and wasn't troubling my- 
self, but some are coming bound in 

a few days, and I'll write a "M " 

in one of them. The second volume 
is giving me a lot of trouble, because I 
have to describe things in it that people 
never see nowadays— and it's like writ- 
ing about the moon. Also, when I be- 

98 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

gin to crow a little, it doesn't read so 
pretty as the humble pie. 

I am thankful your father's getting a 
little rest. 

Has it never occurred to any of you 
in all your lives, I wonder, that all 
Parliamentary debate should be in the 
Tower, or the Round Tower of Wind- 
sor, and only the outcome of debate 
printed — when it's irrevocable. 

If the Queen would have me for 
Grand Vizier, I'd save papa such a lot 
of trouble, and come and chop twigs 
with him afterwards — when he'd got 
the tree down. — Ever your, J. R. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2gth October, 1886. 

My dearest M , — How often I 

think of you, and shall think as long as 

99 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

this life, whether of dream or reality, 
is spared to me, I am most thankful to 
be permitted to tell you, for my own 
sake ; how much more if you can really 
get some strength or joy from your old 
friend, not having forgotten, nor tried 
to forget what you used to be to him. 
Of course, no one had told me of your 
illness, or my own would not have 
prevented my trying to hear of your 
safety; and, indeed, what you say of 
these illnesses of mine is in great part 
true, but they are very grievous to 
me, and I trust yours will return no 
more. 

I am more passionately and care- 
fully occupied in music than ever yet. 
Please get well, and be Sainte Cecile 
again to me. I will not write more 
to-day, but the moment you tell me 

lOO 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

again you should like me to. — Ever 
your loving "Aprile." 

John Ruskin. 



Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
26th March, 1887. 

Darling Cecilia, — I am so very 
thankful for your letter, and for all it 
tells of yourself and says of me. If a 
great illness like that is quite con- 
quered, the return to the lovely world 
is well worth having left it for the pain- 
ful time; one never knew what beauty 
was before (unless in happy love which 
I had about two hours and three- 
quarters of once in my life). I am 
really better now than for some years 
back, able every day for a little work, 
not fast, but very slow (Second Praet. 
isn't out yet, I'm just at work on the 

lOI 



Ruskin's Letters to M. G. 

eleventh chapter) ; and able to take 
more pleasure in things than lately. 
It's not to go into " Prseterita," but you 

and F may know that I've been 

these last two years quite badly in love 

with , who's a Skye girl, half rook, 

half terrier, with a wonderful musical 
gift, and led me a dog's life, and never 
would play a note rightly if I was in the 
room, but made the piano clash and 
growl at me. At last I've been obliged 
to make them keep her at Heme 
Hill, and I'm getting some peace, 
but badly piqued and provoked and 

hurt. Tell F I've got some very 

comforting birch-trees, however, and 
cut everything away that worries 
them. — Ever your lovingest, 

"Aprile." 



Ruskin's Letter to M. G. and F. G. 

To M. G. and F. G. 

Brantwood, 

iSth May, 1887. 

Dearest Friends,— But however is 
the sight of you to come to pass then? 
I need the help of it more than either 
of you, and have needed it all along 
while yoti two were all in the Wedding 
March by Mendelssohn, as Coventry 
Patmore put it in his beautiful poem, 
entitled "The Angel in the House." 

You both of 3^ou stole that " march " 
upon me; neither of you gave me the 
slightest warning, but came each down 
on me with the news that you were to 
be married on " Monday," and expected 
me to enjoy the wedding-cake. 

I've never for an instant been faith- 
less to either of you. But F was 

never more than a birch-tree to me, 

103 



Ruskin's L-etter to M. G. and F. G. 

and it didn't always keep march-music 

time ; M was my little mother and 

Patroness Saint, and suddenly left me 
orphaned. 

Heaven knows I bear no malice, but 
you can't hit your lovers on the heart, 
like that, when it suits you, and have 
them whenever you like to look for the 
bits to hang on your chatelaines again. 
Least of all can you expect them, when 
they are wellnigh on their death-beds, 
to hold your bells at the bridle-rein. . . . 

If either of you, or both, could come 
here for as long as you please, it would 
be a beneficence to me of the very high- 
est and gravest kind. And so farewell 
(and as much love as you care to take) 
for to-day. To-morrow {D. V.), I'll 
send you the motive of tny " Iron 
March," which is in extremely steady 

104 



Ruskin's Letter to M. G. and F. G. 

time, but is not in root-movement of a 
cheerful character. You may melt it 
into iron that can be wrought. — Ever 
your affectionate, 

J. RUSKIN. 



Ill 

RUSKIN'S LETTERS TO H. G. 



Ill 

RUSKIN'S LETTERS TO H. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
24ih January, 1885. 

Dear Miss H , — Your letter 

gladdened my heart in many windows 
of it, east and west at once, in giving 
me good news of your father ; in know- 
ing that, "for M 's sake," I was 

very sure to go the length of forgiving 

H ; and in allowing me the real 

grace of placing my books in your 
Newnham library. 

I never was ambitious before in my 
life, though vain enough always; but 
I am verily ambitious now of becoming 

109 



Ruskin's Letters to H. G. 

what, though it is much to say, it does 
seem to me that I ought to be, an ac- 
ceptedly standard girl's - author, and 
I had hke to have added "ity"; but 
stopped, being very sure they will al- 
ways have more rule over me than I 
over them! 

I have ordered my publisher to send 
exactly the same series to you that I 
sent to Girton, and to continue the 
series that are in course of publi- 
cation. 

With all sorts of love to M , and 

all true good wishes for your Thurs- 
day's sunrise. Ever faithfully and 
gratefully yours, John Ruskin. 

I think you will like to see the pretty 
saying about Newnham, which came to 
me this morning from Chelsea. 

no 



Ruskin's Letters to H. G. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2gth March, 1885. 

Dear Miss H , — I have not 

promised my presentation yet; but 
please look over enclosed case, and 
tell me what you think of it. 

I'm so wild just now because your 
father won't make me prime minister 
for a day, like the Sleeper Awakened. 

Love to M . She wouldn't come 

to "help to look after" me, would she, 
if I took the rheumatism badly, or 
neuralgia, or anything pitiable (with- 
out being disagreeable?) of that sort? 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
2nd April, 1885. 

Dear Miss G , — It's immensely 

nice, this unification of interests; but 
there's still one more case I've got to 

III 



Ruskin's Letters to H. G. 

look into. Will you please ask Miss 
Brown if she got my answer to her let- 
ter? and why she did not write again? 
It is true my reply said this presenta- 
tion was promised (it is by an accident 
I find it still free), but I wanted an 
answer to some points I asked. — Ever 
faithfully yours, J. R. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
28th November, 1886. 

My dear H , — I am especially 

glad of your letter to-day, for I was 
writing to Mrs. Alexander of a new 
book I'm planning from her daughter's 
letters, and she will be so glad to see 
yours. 

It was only the girls at the fountain 
that I meant for Girton. Keep the 
preghiera, with the two others, at 

112 



Ruskin's Letters to H. G. 

Newnham. (What is the connection 
or distinction of North Hall with the 
rest of Newnham ?) 

I rejoice in knowing the Superiora 
drawings give pleasure. I will ask at 
once for the loan of them when I see 
my way to publishing them. 

When may I send another letter to 
puzzle the butler ? — Ever affectionately 
yours, J. RusKiN. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
22nd February, 1887. 

Dear Miss G , — In a gushing fit 

of order and remorse, proper to the 
spring of the year, I have come on a 
note of yours, dated 2 2d Jan., 1885, 
saying you would like to have my books 
at Newnham. 

I am sure I meant to send them, but 
8 113 



Ruskin's Letters to H. G. 

don't remember doing anything of the 
sort. 

I have ordered them now — about a 
ton weight of them, of which I specially 
recommend the Political Economy. 

Was it to you that I sent, last year, 
the story of the Superiora, and did you 
send me a copy of it ? If you have it, 
and have sent me no copy, please, I 
want a scratch copy to print. 

Tell me something about M , and 

believe me ever, faithfully and affec- 
tionately yours, John Ruskin. 

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 
24th February, 1887. 

Dear H , — I am most thankful 

for your letter and accounts of M . 

I have not countermanded my order. 
I think my books may really be of 

114 



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Ruskin's Letters to H. G 

some use to people now — in kind 
hands. 

I am sending drawings to Girton, on 
loan from St. George's Guild, in the 
hope they may copy them well enough 
to be of use to themselves. I am going 
to look you out one or two, also, which 
you can keep as long as you like to look 
at, and copy, if anybody can. 

What elementary practice in drawing 
is there? 

I shall not need the Superiora draw- 
ings, only copy of the text, at leisure. 
When done please let it be sent to Mr. 
Jowett, Printing Works, Aylesbury. — 
Ever affectionately yours, 

J. RUSKIN. 



IV 

RUSKIN AND GLADSTONE 

(Paper by Canon Scott Holland) 



IV 
RUSKIN AND GLADSTONE 

July, 1898. — We felt at Westminster 
Abbey that we were burying the last 
of the prophets who can come to us 
from an earlier and greater generation 
than our own. But let us not forget 
that there is still one left, though buried 
in silence up by Coniston Lake ; and the 
long silence is all the more pathetic as 
we recall the exquisite speech which 
was the characteristic of John Ruskin. 
There he waits for the end which is so 
long in coming, and for us he is already 
passed away. Perhaps it may be well 

119 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

for me to recall the first occasion on 
which Mr. Gladstone and John Ruskin 
met. It was, curiously, far on in both 
lives; but somewhere about the year 
1 88 1. Mr. Ruskin had written an ar- 
ticle, in the Nineteenth Century, which 
had profoundly stirred Mr. Gladstone, 
and it was suggested that it would be 
a happy opportunity for Mr. Ruskin 
to be invited to Hawarden. He ac- 
cepted, and I found myself at Brough- 
ton Station, arriving with him by the 
same train. As we drove up I discov- 
ered he had the darkest view possible 
of his host, imbibed from the " Master " 
Carlyle, to whose imagination he fig- 
ured apparently as the symbol of all 
with which he was at war. Ruskin 
was therefore extremely timid and sus- 
picious, and had secured, in view of a 

I20 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

possible retreat, a telegram which 
might at any moment summon him 
home ; this telegram loomed largely the 
first day, and we were constantly under 
its menace. But as hour by hour he 
got happier, the references to its possi- 
ble arrival came more and more rarely, 
and finally it became purely mythical. 

The amusement of the meeting of 
the two lay in the absolute contrast 
between them at every point on which 
conversation could conceivably turn. 
The brimming optimism of Mr. Glad- 
stone, hoping all things, believing ev- 
erybody, came clashing up at every 
turn with the inveterate pessimism of 
Mr. Ruskin, who saw nothing on -every 
side but a world rushing headlong down 
into the pit. 

They might talk on the safest of 

121 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

topics, and still the contrast was in- 
evitable. We heard Gladstone get on 
Homer and Iliad, and a sense that there, 
at least, all would be well, came over 
us; what was our despair when we 
realised that in the poetic record of 
some prehistoric exchange Mr. Glad- 
stone was showing how thoroughly 
Homer had entered into those princi- 
ples of barter which modern economic 
science would justify. As he paused 
in an eloquent exposition for a re- 
sponse from his listener, Mr. Ruskin 
said, in a tone of bitter regret: "And 
to think that the devil of Political 
Economy was alive even then." At 
another time, Walter Scott was upper- 
most. Here, indeed, we thought was 
common ground; but Mr. Gladstone 
unfortunately dropped the remark that 

122 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

"Sir Walter had made Scotland," and 
on Mr. Ruskin's inquiry as to the mean- 
ing of the phrase, imagine our anxiety 
when Mr. Gladstone began telling us 
of the amazing contrast between the 
means of communication in Scotland 
before Sir Walter wrote, compared with 
the present day. He poured out stores 
of most interesting characteristic mem- 
ories of his own days when one coach a 
week ran between this town and that, 
and of the strange isolation of the hu- 
man life hidden away in the Highlands, 
and with this he triumphantly com- 
pared the number of coaches and char- 
k-bancs, &c., that were conveying 
masses of happy trippers up and down 
the Trossachs. Mr. Ruskin's face had 
been deepening in horror, and at last 
he could bear it no longer: "But, my 

123 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

dear sir," he broke out, "that is not 
making Scotland; that is unmaking it." 

These ruptures of interest were 
bound to occur. The one trusted in 
the democratic movement, however 
chaotic and vulgar might be some of 
its manifestations ; the other had learnt 
from his master, and faithfully repeat- 
ed his lesson, that the only hope for the 
great mass of mankind lay in obedience 
to the strong will of the strong man 
who would know so much better for 
them than they would themselves, 
what it was their true life needed. 

But the beautiful thing of it all was, 
that in spite of every collision, they 
learnt to like and love each other better 
and better. 

Mr. Gladstone retained throughout 
the tone of courteous and deferential 

124 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

reverence, as for a man whom he pro- 
foundly honoured. And Mr. Ruskin 
threw off every touch of suspicion with 
which he had arrived, and showed, with 
all the frankness and charm of a child, 
his new sense of the greatness and no- 
bility of the character of his host. He 
made himself absolutely at home, show- 
ed himself obviously happy, talked in 
his most delicious freedom ; and finally, 
on departing, as he stood at the hall 
steps, begged publicly to recant all that 
he had ever said or thought against Mr. 
Gladstone, and pledged himself to with- 
draw from print some unhappy phrase 
which he had used about him, and 
which it now stung him with shame to 
remember. It was a complete victory, 
and all the more noticeable just because 
the two talked a different language, and 

125 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

moved in different worlds. I drove 
away with Mr. Ruskin again to the sta- 
tion, after a three days' visit, and he 
poured out freely to me the joy of his 
discovery, but was a little nervous as to 
how he was going to explain it to " the 
Master" when he got back to Chelsea. 
I met him again at breakfast in Down- 
ing Street, when he was in radiant 
force, and I shall never forget Mr. 
Gladstone's look of puzzled earnestness 
as Mr. Ruskin expounded at length a 
scheme he had for enforcing our social 
responsibility for crime. We, all of us, 
were guilty of the crimes done in our 
neighbourhood. Why had we not sus- 
tained a higher moral tone, which 
would make men ashamed to commit 
crime when we are near? Why had 
we allowed the conditions which lead 

126 



RiJSKiN AND Gladstone 

to crime? We ought to feel every 
crime as our own. How good then 
would it be if London were cut up into 
districts, and when a murder was com- 
mitted in any one district, the inhab- 
itants should draw lots to decide who 
should be hung for it. Would not that 
quicken the public conscience? How 
excellent the moral effect would be if 
the man on whom the lot fell were of a 
peculiarly high character! 

Mr. Ruskin felt sure there w^ould be 
no more murders in that district for 
some time. He conceived that even 
the murderer himself would be pro- 
foundly moved as he silently witnessed 
the execution of this innocent and ex- 
cellent gentleman; and would make 
a resolution as he walked away that 
he would abstain from such deeds in 

127 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

future. What was Mr. Gladstone to say 
to this? Was he to confute it, or show 
the difficulties of its practical working ? 
Or again, there was a newspaper which 
Mr. Ruskin had devised, in which the 
news, all of it, was to be absolutely 
true. The difficulty was that it would 
have long ceased to be news before it 
could be certified to be true ; everything 
in the paper would be months after the 
event, and everybody would probably 
have long forgotten what it was talking 
about. But still, when it did come, 
months late, there would be the com- 
fort of knowing that it was at least 
true. And instead of police news there 
would be sketches of all the people best 
worth knowing in the neighbourhood, 
with notes of their moral characteris- 
tics. Speaking of Elizabeth Fry's pris- 

128 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

on reforms, he said it was silly to fuss 
about the insidcs of prisons. Once you 
had sent people into prison, make the 
inside as bad as possible. It was out- 
side you wanted reform. It was So- 
ciety that made crime possible. That 
the idle rich were the real criminals, 
that every man who had over £sooo a 
year should be imprisoned if he did no 
work. On every subject that turned 
up that morning the side M. took was 
the unexpected, and both war and 
slavery found in him a warm advocate. 
Ruskin had more than any man the 
platonic charm which mingles humour 
and seriousness so that the two are in- 
separable. And this was the form of 
humour that was least congenial to Mr. 
Gladstone. Not at all, as is so often 
said, that he did not enjoy humour; few 
9 129 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

people enjoyed more heartily a good 
piece of fun, or laughed with a larger 
freedom. But when Mr. Gladstone 
was serious he was serious; while Mr. 
Ruskin, like Plato, had ever a quiver 
of irony and wit stirring within every- 
thing that was most serious, so that it 
was impossible to separate the two. 
This caused the bewilderment. 

So the two prophets met, and were 
knit together by an affectionate rever- 
ence for one another which never failed. 
Each was to go his own way and do 
his separate work, and it was impos- 
sible that they should co-operate to- 
gether. But for all that, they learnt 
to know that they were fighting on the 
same side in the great warfare between 
good and ill; that they had the same 
cause at heart; that they both trusted 

130 



RusKiN AND Gladstone 

in the supremacy of conscience over all 
material things, and in the reality of 
righteousness, and in the hatefulness 
of lust and cruelty and wrong. Their 
spirits drew together though their 
ways lay so far apart ; and this because, 
for both, life had its deep root in piety, 
and had its one and only consummation 
in God. 



V 

THE DEAD RUSKIN 

{Paper by Canon Scott Holland) 



V 
THE DEAD RUSKIN 

RusKiN is dead. The first instinct is to 
repeat the words over and over again, 
even as Charles Lamb went about say- 
ing nothing all day but " Coleridge is 
dead: Coleridge is dead!" Death is 
such a strange context for these radi- 
ant souls, who flash, and kindle, and in- 
spire. They seem to be part of our life- 
tissue, to have passed into our blood. 
We cannot strip ourselves of their pres- 
ence. We cannot force ourselves to feel 
that this earth of ours holds them no 
longer. They belong to our vital force. 

135 



The Dead Ruskin 

How can we believe that they are dead ? 
And, then, there comes the personal 
memory of the man, with all the nota- 
ble characteristics that made his pres- 
ence among us memorable. Who that 
had ever seen him could forget John 
Ruskin? He had the touch that goes 
straight to the heart. He came up to 
one so confidentially, so appealingly, 
with the wistful look in his grey-glint- 
ing eyes, which seemed to say, " I never 
find anybody who quite understands 
me, but I still hope and think that you 
will." How quaint, the mingling of 
this wistfulness in the face with the 
spotted blue stock and the collars and 
the frock-coat, which made him look 
like something between an old-fash- 
ioned nobleman of the Forties, and an 
angel that had lost its way. The small, 

136 



The Dead Ruskin 

bird-like head and hands and fif^ure 
had, nevertheless, a curious and old- 
world pomp in their gait and motions. 
The bushy eyebrows gave a strength to 
the upper part of the face which was a 
little unexpected, and which found its 
proper balance in the white beard of 
his last years. He, somehow, moved 
one as with the delicate tenderness of a 
woman; and he felt frail, as if the 
roughness of the world would hurt and 
break him; and one longed to shelter 
him from all that was ugly and cruel. 
I was much stmck once by the effect 
of music upon him. He knew, as 
Plato did, its educational value. But, 
as an art, he was not inside it. It 
moved him from without. One day, 
at Hawarden, he had tired himself in a 
long delightful talk to us over St. Ur- 

137 



The Dead Ruskin 

sula and his beloved Carpaccio; and, 
after tea, as dusk came on, he lay back 
in a big chair to rest, while M. G. played 
on to us in the dark, with a magical 
touch peculiar to herself. We thought 
that he would sleep, but he grew ab- 
sorbed, and, at last, rose from his chair 
and walked over to the piano, and 
hung over it until she had finished. 
As she ended, we all waited for him to 
speak, but he was so moved that he 
could find no words, and could only 
say, ' * Thank you ! thank you ! " It was 
in such sharp contrast to the wonderful 
speech that he would pour out on a 
matter of Art whenever he was moved, 
that one understood how this world of 
sound had never passed into his speech. 
It had deep effect, but the effect was 
dumb. Afterwards, as the trouble grew 

138 



The Dead Ruskin 

in his brain, he felt for relief more es- 
pecially in music. He would send for 
M. G. to play for him in bad hours, and 
he would have the Cathedral at Christ 
Church closed at times for him to roam 
up and down it and listen to the organ. 
It may be that the unknown Art had 
more soothing power over him than 
that which he had himself mastered. 

His social message grew directly out 
of his Art teaching, under the stormy 
influence of Carlyle. Good Art could 
only spring out of right living, so he 
knew, and Carlyle showed him that 
there could be no right living under the 
utilitarian individualism of industrial 
competition. 

The remedy for the bad Art of the 
day must begin in the healing of the 
national life. " Have you seen Keble 

139 



The Dead Ruskin 

Chapel, Mr. Ruskin?" we innocently 
asked him. "No!" "Are you going 
to see it?" "No! If it is new, it is 
hideous. Or if it is beautiful, it ought 
not to be. We don't deserve it. You 
clergy ought not to have any beautiful 
churches. You ought to be out in the 
wilderness with St. John the Baptist. 
When you have converted England, it 
will be time to think whether we may 
have any beautiful things again. ' ' That 
was his verdict. It was no day for Art, 
while our filthy cities cried to Heaven 
against us. So he preached with ever 
in tenser vehemence and skill, giving 
precision and reality and exquisite ut- 
terance to that which had been, in Car- 
lyle, but as a thunderous roar. To this 
teaching, he gave close study and 
thought; and ever he perfected, for its 

140 



The Dead Ruskin 

expression, his amazing skill over lan- 
guage. His style freed itself from the 
overloaded consciousness of its earlier 
forms; and, without losing any of its 
beauty, became more concise, well- 
grit, muscular. It was delightful to 
hear him, in his Oxford days, roll out 
his magnificent periods from " Modem 
Painters," and then explain to us their 
defects and their mannerisms, while 
still on the defensive against undue 
depreciation of them. "I wrote that 
sentence over five times before I was 
satisfied," he exclaimed; "and then, 
the young ladies call it 'gush'!" We 
cannot better recall him, than by re- 
hearsing a great passage from his writ- 
ings, taken from the Lectures called " A 
Joy for ever," given in Manchester in 

1857- 

141 



The Dead Ruskin 

It marks the moment when his in- 
terest in Art was just passing into his 
interest in poUtical economy. He has 
come down to talk on pictures and a 
picture-gallery; and, to the surprise of 
his hearers, he is found to be dealing 
with the well-worn economic fallacy 
that luxury gives beneficial employ- 
ment to the poor. The fallacy was 
never more forcibly exposed ; and as it 
still haunts the thievish comers of our 
streets to-day, we may well suffer the 
great preacher to speak to us once again 
from his grave, in his own incomparable 
utterance : — 

"Granted, that whenever we spend 
money for whatever purpose, we set 
people to work; and passing by, for the 
moment, the question whether the work 
we set them to is all equally healthy 

142 



The Dead Ruskin 

and good for them, we will assume that 
whenever we spend a guinea we pro- 
vide an equal number of people with 
healthy maintenance for a given time. 
But, by the way in which we spend it, 
we entirely direct the labour of those 
people during that given time. We 
become their masters or mistresses, and 
we compel them to produce, within a 
certain period, a certain article. Now, 
that article may be a useful and lasting 
one, or it may be a useless and perish- 
able one — it may be one useful to the 
whole community, or useful only to 
ourselves. And our selfishness and 
folly, or our virtue and prudence, are 
shown, not by our spending money, 
but by our spending it for the wrong or 
the right thing; and we are wise and 
kind, not in maintaining a certain 

143 



The Dead Ruskin 

number of people for a given period, 
but only in requiring them to produce, 
during that period, the kind of things 
which shall be useful to society, in- 
stead of those which are only useful to 
ourselves. 

"Thus, for instance, if you are a 
young lady, and employ a certain num- 
ber of sempstresses for a given time, in 
making a given number of simple and 
serviceable dresses — suppose seven — of 
which you can wear one yourself for 
half the winter, and give six away to 
poor girls who have none, you are 
spending your money unselfishly. But 
if you employ the same number of 
sempstresses for the same number of 
days in making four, or five, or six 
beautiful flounces for your own ball- 
dress — flounces which will clothe no 

144 



The Dead Ruskin 

one but yourself, and which you will 
yourself be unable to wear at more 
than one ball — you are employing your 
money selfishly. You have maintain- 
ed, indeed, in each case the same num- 
ber of people, but in one case you have 
directed their labour to the service of 
the community; in the other case you 
have consumed it wholly upon yourself. 
I don't say you are never to do so; I 
don't say you ought not sometimes to 
think of yourselves only, and to make 
yourselves as pretty as you can, only 
do not confuse coquettishness with 
benevolence, nor cheat yourselves into 
thinking that all the finery you can 
wear is so much put into the hungry 
mouths of those beneath you : it is not 
so; it is what you yourselves, whether 
you will or no, must sometimes instinc- 

145 



The Dead Ruskin 

lively feel it to be — it is what those 
who stand shivering in the streets, 
forming a line to watch you as you 
step out of your caiTiages, know it to 
be; those fine dresses do not mean 
that so much has been put into their 
mouths, but that so much has been 
taken out of their mouths. The real 
politico-economical signification of ev- 
ery one of those beautiful toilettes is 
just this — that you have had a certain 
number of people put for a certain 
number of days wholly under your au- 
thority by the sternest of slave-masters 
— hunger and cold; and you have said 
to them, ' I will feed you, indeed, and 
clothe you, and give you fuel for so 
many days ; but during those days you 
shall work for me only; your little 
brothers need clothes, but you shall 

146 



The Dead Ruskin 

make none for them; your sick friend 
needs clothes, but you shall make none 
for her ; you yourself will soon need an- 
other and a warmer dress, but you shall 
make none for yourself. You shall 
make nothing but lace and roses for me ; 
for this fortnight to come you shall 
work at the patterns and petals, and 
then I will crush and consume them 
away in an hour.' 

"And it would be strange if at any 
great assembly which, while it dazzled 
the young and the thoughtless, be- 
guiled the gentler hearts that beat be- 
neath the embroidery, with a placid 
sensation of luxurious benevolence — 
as if by all that they wore in wayward- 
ness of beautv, comfort had been first 
given to the distressed, and aid to the 

147 



The Dead Ruskin 

indigent; it would be strange, I say, if 
for a moment the spirits of Truth and 
of Terror, which walk invisibly among 
the masques of the earth, would lift the 
dimness from our erring thoughts, and 
show us how — inasmuch as the sums 
exhausted for that magnificence would 
have given back the failing breath to 
many an unsheltered outcast on moor 
and street — they who wear it have 
literally entered into partnership with 
Death, and dressed themselves in his 
spoils. Yes, if the veil could be lifted 
not only from your thoughts, but from 
your human sight, you would see — the 
angels do see — on those gay white 
dresses of yours, strange dark spots, 
and crimson patterns that you knew 
not of — spots of the inextinguishable 
red that all the seas cannot wash away ; 

148 



The Dead Ruskin 

yes, and among the pleasant flowers 
that crown your fair heads, and glow 
on your wreathed hair, you would see 
that one weed was always twisted 
which no one thought of — the grass 
that grows on graves." 



THE END 



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